Last updated November 16, 2013
Are you a lonelyheart that misses the Golden Age of Plastic? Pull up a stool, wallflower, and order a drink. You might find seven inches to take home with you. We survey what's righteous in vinyl from around the world. All reviews by THE BARMAN unless otherwise noted.
NOT THE DRIVER EP - Loose Pills (China Pig Records)
What's not to like about this debut EP from Sydney's best new "old" band? Members of The Pyramidiacs, the New Christs, The Scruffs, The Lemonheads, The Eastern Dark, Barbarellas and Orange Humble Band assembled in 2012. Gigs were followed by a recording session. These four tracks of ragged and righteous powerpop are some of the fruits of that labour and live up to the collective curriculum vitae of the band members. The bouncy title track's an unashamed trip backwards to the '80s when hooks and melody counted and pitch correction was something only a baseball coach knew. Ryan Ellsmore's a master of the plaintive vocal and nails it on this one. A nicely obtuse tempo-changing guitar interlude by Matt Galvin lets the song cause for breath before diving back into the fray. Stu Wilson (drums) and Bill Gibson (bass) make a formidable engine room and come to the fore on "Fall From Grace", a more reserved but well rounded song with its antecedents in US college radio. "Girl From No. 9" is the nasty rocker, the feedback-laden stain on the coffee table. "Sister Groove" sounds like a Red Kross outtake. No bad thing and it does have a certain groove that works a treat. Some may find the stylistyic variety a drawback but i reckon it's all part of the charm (and EPs should showcase that.) Grab a copy from Bandcamp (physical copy and download) and look forward to the album.
BEYOND THE NETHER b/w HANDY ROUND HERE - The Nature Strip (China Pig Records)
Popular opinion is that powerpop is meant to be as easily consumed (most of it, anyway) as disposed of soon after. Bugger that. Sydney's The Nature Strip throw out all sorts of odd twists to make these two songs an absorbing listen, a journey down an aural rabbit hole using a psychedelic road map. "Beyond The Nether" rattles along on an irresistible feel and a woven bed of synthesisers with Peter Marley and John Encarnacao (the core of the band) trading lead vocal. Guitars take a back seat for most of the way and it's a deliciously trippy ride. The B side is almost as engrossing with a deliberate, unwinding feel and guitar line, with surrealistic lyrics. Get it here.
TINY MIGRANTS EP - Tiny Migrants (Merenoise Records)
Slacker pop normally leaves me indifferent but these Brisbaneites have a swagger about them that makes them stand out from the pack. A five piece who keep the biographical details sketchy, they came to our notice on the Aussie "Nuggets" comp and have released this on 7" vinyl. Channeling the riot girrrl sound sound of the '90s, vocalist Tegan makes a good fist of sounding bratty and very pissed off. "Fishpond Goldmine" is the snotty garage-surf centre-piece of this four-tracker. "Grab Your Gun" is vaguely Tex-Mex with a vocal that's buried deeper than an oil seam. "Mork Talk" is girl group gloop with edgy lo-fi guitars. The stutter pop of "Uncontrollable" is wrapped in more lo-fi amplitude and gets more addictive on every listen.
CARDINI b/w RUBBER WING THING - New Jack Rubys (self released)
Not really a vinyl 7"but CD-singles are so rare these days that it had to find a home in the Singles Bar. This hard-edged Brisbane guitar band with a psychedelic edge kicks serious arse. Their first tune on this is a tribute to the creator of the Caesar salad and wipes the floor with all those TV cooking shows with snarling guitars, a wailing vocal and tight time changes. "Rubber Wing Thing" seems to talk about a place, not an object, and barrels along with equal vehemence. The guitars are so dirty you'd have to take them through a commercial carwash to get them clean. The liner notes quote HP Lovecraft. Yes, they do things differently in Brisbane. Download for free here.
THE CLAPPING SONG EP - The Rebelles (RB Records)
If I was going to ask for a cover before I die, "The Clapping Song" would be close to the bottom of my bucket list. Sorry, the Belle Stars fucked this one forever in the '80s. That said, this girl group choir from Melbourne makes a good fist of it and three other cover tunes on their debut EP. Backed by a handful of guys, the identical bobs-and-sunnies wearing Rebelles mix sass and garage soul to light up the turntable. Top of the tree is their cover of "Baby I Love You", the original of which was by the Ronettes but their treatment betraying a deep and abiding love for the Ramones. Mikey (Eddy Current Suppression Ring) Young's production is a lot less lush than Phil Spector's. It's all fun.
ANOTHER LOST WEEKEND b/w ANIMAL - Chris Klondike Masuak & Los Eternos (H-Records)
You can't just live in an idyllic and rustic part of Spain and sit back. Chris "Klondike" Masuak has teamed with local major label band Los Eternos to crank out these two attention seekers. "Weekend" was a mainstay in latter-day Hitmen sets. It's an unabashed Dictators cop, if the style of 'Tators you're referencing is the poppy part of the extensive catalogue. Los Eternos take to it like they wrote it. It's powerpop writ large and Masuak nails the vocal in his own way. "Animal" is a previously unrecorded Masuak solo tune that references Maroubra, Canada and a chick who's fucking hot. It's also a mainstay - in North 40 sets (that'd be Klondike's solo band in Australia.) The extended length version gives full play to a scorching Masuak lead-break, the likes of which are absent on the A side and have been missing for far too long around in these parts (Australia). Killer tune, killer 45!
TAKE YOUR PILLS b/w I NEED A MILLION/STUFF AND THINGS - HITS (Beast Records)
People keep telling me the best of HITS is still to come with another album pending but "Take Your Pills" will be hard to top. The sheer power and tight-looseness is what makes this expilosive Brisbane combo one of the best bands in their country. Evil Dick rips into one of those semi-coherent tirades and the band sweeps along with him on the A side. "I Need a Million" is a Laughing Dogs cover that's put to the sword in spectacular fashion. The breakneck "Stuff and Things" is over before it's begun and works almost as well. Buy without hesitation. Grab it via the label or there are a limited amount here.
BIG BLACK CAR - HITS b/w HOON - Cosmic Psychos (Mere Noise Singles Club)
A stuttering riff signals the start of the HITS side of this split single and it's a formidable tune with gutter-level guitars, manic rolls and the twin vocal axis of Evil Dick and Tamara hammering home their point. Great lead break in there too and nothing to do with the Big Red Car of Wiggles fame. The Psychos are a venerable institution in Australia and still deliver the payload. Fuzz bass provides the platform (as usual) for a pawn to hooliganism on four wheels. Knighty wails, you listen. No surprises to hear him declare he's a noon but why resist? The only way you'll secure this two-headed 7" monster is by signing up for the Mere Noise Records Single Club, details of which you'll find here. Proceeds go to the Black Dog Institute to fight depression.
- Cosmic Psychos
TOO MANY TIMES b/w BABY IT'S YOU - Littlle Murders (Off The Hip)
Despite the titles, neither song has anything to do with one hit wonders Promises or Australia's quirky journeymen turned corporate giggers, Mental As Anything. Regulars at the I-94 Bar will know of the unabashed admiration that abounds in these parts for this Melbourne band. I might be wrong but of the many line-ups, this one is now the most enduring - at least in time if not gigs. They do play often - and it shows in the confident delivery. Frontman Rob Griffiths writes anthemic pop classics and this 45 is no exception. "Baby It's You"is a grower that sneaks up, taps you on the shoulder and steals a kiss. It's a mid-tempo mover with shiny guitars and a beguiling chorus. "Too Many Times" swipes its opening from Bo/the Dolls ("Pills") and detours into its own landscape - a territory staked out by strikingly bitter-sweet guitars and a killer feel. Two-and-a-half minutes that eventually elbows aside the formidable A side. Procure via iTunes or keep vinyl alive. The choice is yours.
THE HORRORTONES: TRIPLE 7" BOX SET - The Horrortones (Mere Noise)
It must have been a Grand Canyon sized crack that this one slipped into because it's a big fat box set with a big sound that emerged from sub-tropical Queensland in the second half of 2012. The Horrortones aren't Goths but a garage-soul party band from Brisbane with members drawn from Vegas Kings, Six Ft Hick and Texas Tea. Vegas Kings and label leader Pete Collins leads form the front on vocals. Guests to have graced a stage with them include Spencer P. Jones, Ben and Geoff Corbett (Six Ft Hick) and members of HITS, Giants of Science and The Gin Club. So what's not to like? Horns and keys mix it with the standard guitars, bass and drums elements and considering the deal with The Horrortones is that there's no permanent line-up and anyone can play, it's very together. The six songs are mostly covers of covers by people like The Dirtbombs and The Compulsive Gambers. There's a stinging take on Sir Bob Seger's "Rambling, Gambling Man" that wipes the floor with most others. "W.A.S.T.E.D." locks into a rock solid groove while "Livin' For The Weekend" is raucous enough to raise the dead.It's a near thing but line honours go to "Whole Lotta' Woman" which meets or exceeds the hip-shaking qualities of The Contours' original. Some sweet chick backing vocals are thrown into the deal. Contact the label for a copy - the bnox comes with a CD version for the turntable-challenged.
I'M BAD b/w WHAT KINDA MAN - Rocket To Memphis (Off The Hip)
Crampsian A side and aching girl group pop with a garage twist on the flip. What's not to like? These West Australians (two of them via Sydney's Toys Went Berserk) do a nice line in voodoobilly pop. Lead vocalist Betty Bombshell has a great voice and the grinding guitars of Razor Jack Memphis put a sharp edge to the songs. It's not the most original thing you'll hear this year but judged on its standalone merits, it's well worth repeated spins on your jukebox. Which is what we're doing. Matt Verta-Ray recorded it in NYC. That's a big deal.
I WONDER WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW b/w COOL RUNNINGS - The Domnicks (Citadel Records)
The first 45 on Citadel since John Needham didn't have grey hair and it's a ripper. The Domnicks are the Perth, WA, band for Dom Mariani (Stems, Someloves, DM3) and Nick Sheppard (Cortinas, the last line-up of The Clash) and they play vibrant melodic pop-rock. The A side is classic Mariani - simple and effective and not a million miles away from his best DM3 stuff. Flip it over for another slice of pop with summery guitars. this time penned and sang by Sheppard. You need it. Get it before it becomes a high-priced collector's item.
BEFORE I COULD THINK/GIANT FOR EVERYONE b/w ALL SO COMPLICATED/TEARING OUT MY HEART - Simon Chainsaw (Kicking Records)
Issued in time for a recent European tour and as expected, it rocks the motherfuckin' socks off almost anything else on a thin sliver of 45rpm vinyl heard these last few months. "Before I Could Think" is three-guitar attack with six-string co-conspirators Billy the Kill and Joe Klenner contributing guitars from France and San Paulo, Brazil, respectively. There's more of the same on "All So Complicated", which rises and falls on sharply undulating riffs. "Giant For Everyone" is a cover of a song by Argentinian band Los Lotus and it's a stop-start machine gun burst of guitars with more licks than summertime open day at an ice cream factory. "Tear Out My Heart" is typical Chainsaw vocal melody line over rambunctious and raw punk rock backing. A rougher ride than recent releases, you can hear a track and buy it here.
ECONOMICAL SENSE b/w DON'T WANNA WORK/ ROJO ROCKET - Special Patrol Group (Outaspace Records)
Sydney's premier good time punk rock and rollers at their raucous best. The A side is a vaguely cowpunk drinking song, a bogan's version of Einstein's Theory of Relatively applied to liquor store purchasing and an ode to home consumption."Don't Wanna Work" is bluntly effective riffia-rama that's over as soon as it begins. "Rojo Rocket" is a blues-wailing harmonica, organ and guitars smack down. If Sydney had frat patties, this would be the soundtrack. Buy the vinyl and get downloads of these and two other tunes, a ragged cover of "Keep a Knocking" and "Mother Fucker Blues".
MOKUM MOKUM B/w ENDANGERED SPECIES - The Works (Donkey Punch Records)
If you're going to appropriate, do so from the best. Dutch band The Works have that, er, worked out and the result is a cover of the Manirtoba's Wild Kingdom/Dictators classic "New York New York", adapted to reflect their hometown of Amsterdam and sung in Dutch. Works for me and sounds like a plan for a more expansive tribute record. You can read more about it here on the Dictators blog. The flip is a another Dictatoreseque trip expounding the virtues of being male. Built on some fine riffing, I could swear it has Handsome Dick's half-brother on vocals.
TO ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE b/w THE TRUTH ABOUT BABY JANE - Red Mass (Dusty Medical Records)
This single on a quirky and revered Millwaulkee label is apparently just the tip of a substantial psych/garage/weirdness iceberg that's presided over by ex-Sexareenos guy Roy Vucino. The A side is a frantic and scrappy garage rocker, a surging express train trip that's over almost before it's begun. It sounds like The Oblivians on red cordial. The flip is Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers re-born as a doo-wop surf band. Clattering but light-touch and unpolished pop, it's riddled with shiny open chords and weird sonic effects. All in all, pretty inspired.
JUPITER b/w BACK TO YOU - Bazooka (Dusty Medical Records)
There's not a lot I know about this duo from the backwoods of Alabama but there's no need for a back story when the single's this good. "Jupiter" is a tub-thumping garage stomp with nasally vocals that were committed to tape from somewhere on the edge of the solar system. Infectiously bright. So is the B side, a vaguely country-ish slice of singalong pop with a loping "nananananana" chorus. Not a little loopy in its own sweet way and mucho recommended.
THE LEDGE b/w MEANWHILE - New Christs (Pitshark Records)
The usual enigmatic sleeve but the contents are as emphatic as you'd expect. "The Ledge" begins with a burst of bee-sting dissonance before burring guitars and Mr Younger's doom-laden vocal announce the end of your world is nigh. Who needs the Mayans and their stupid calendar? Swatches of organ colour the tune and it has a blockbuster rhythm that's epic. Don't hesitate to leave your own ledge and jump. You shouldn't need to be pushed. "Meanwhile" harkens back to the "Pedestal" EP with keyboards deputising for horns. The lead break's nicely understated and there's a nagging, insistent ethos to this song that makes resistance futile. A tip though - don't be like me and leave it too late to score a copy as it's almost sold-out.
FOUR ON THE FLOOR EP - Simon Chainsaw (Dark Roasted)
If you've hung around the I-94 Bar for long you'll be familiar with the judgement that Simon Chainsaw has cornered the market on melodic punk. This four-tracker is vindication. "She Was Zen" leads off in fine style, all bristling guitar and hooks with power to burn. "Not That Kind Of Attitude" is a little scuzzier and nearly as strong. The stuttering "Midwife Chorus" kicks into a twisting melody line while "Laughing" gets along like the hounds of hell. Recorded in Spain with his French touring band, it's easily procurable through any number of labels (Everyday Is Sunday, Kicking Records among them) or direct from the man himself. You couldn't have a better introduction.
READY TO PUNCH YOUR FACE/ - Head-On b/w DESTINY MINUS U - Spencer P Jones (Beast Records)
Split single with French swamp rockers Head-On on one side and the ever-brilliant Spencer P Jones on the other. The Head-On song is a winner, a brooding and primal song that creeps along with barbed lead guitar and a rollicking vocal being the focal points. There's little information on the sleeve but Spencer's tune is very much typical of what's he doing with his current band The Escape Committee (it might even be them on this.) It's a wall of bluesy rocking goodness with barbed wire guitar with his vocal a little buried and when it abruptly shudders to a halt you'll wish it was still going. Buy without fear.
AIN'T TALKIN' ABOUT YOU - Black Diamond Heavies b/w LIGHT UP THE SKY - Billy Gaz Station (Beast Records)
Black Diamond Heavies can do no wrong in these parts. The ultra-heavy keys-and-drums duo makes more racket than a busload of brewery workers on their way to a company-sponsored detox and this song's no exception. If there's a criticism it's that the production is a little muted rather than the usual needles-in-the-red distorted low-fi. Bilyl Gaz Station are possibly the best French band I'd not heard until their side of this 45 made contact with the stylus. "Light Up The Sky" is a Blue Oyster Cult guitar-styled rocker with a rhythm section that takes no prisoners. It's enough to make me forgive the Van Halen band logo (but I'm also guessing the homage is intentional.)
ACQUAINTANCES - Six Ft Hick b/w ABANDON SHIP - Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side (Beast Records/Spooky Records)
Without the benefit of the visuals of their live shows, Six Ft Hick live or die by the quality of their songs. The good news is that "Acquaintances" is in the land of the living. It's a heavy-as-shit thumper rather than a tearaway and aurally speaking, fairly jumps of the turntable. If you're going to press a 45, master it loud. The same applies to Gentle Ben's share of the vinyl. It's another slow burn of a song and confirms why these guys are one of the best acts going around in Australia. The finish is worth the build-up. Co-pressed by French label Beast and the bands' Australian imprint, Spooky, ample copies have made their way around the world for you to lack an excuse for not owning it.
MURDER CITY NIGHTS b/w I-94 - Radio Birdman (Pitshark Records)
The purists will say it's played too fast but there's no denying this single from the "Live In Texas" album captures the significant adrenalin rush of a later era Birdman show. Repeated playings of the album underline that its mix is harsher than a mother-in-law's kiss so the same applies to the seven-inch, but the performance is hard to beat. Russell Hopkinson's presence behind the kit added fresh dynamics to the rockier tunes that seemed to energise the band. French label Pitshark always punches above its weight with releases from the New Christs, the Stooges and numerous others and has packaged this nicely with a glossy sleeve and fold-out poster. Get in fast as it's a limited run.
BLACKSMITH BLUES + I AM NO HUMAN - A ROBOT b/w ALLIGATOR RIVER + LIMOUSINE - Lothar (Lorna Records)
Releases by Finish rock and roll bands are thin on the ground in Australia but that's no reason not to embrace this four-track EP. The title track is straight-up rock and roll with a swing in his step. "I Am No Human - A Robot" sounds like Bon Scott arm-wrestling all comers in a bar in Rock and Roll Heaven. That's an industrial-sized riff running roughshod over a sequencer, if you didn't notice. Flip it over for "Alligator River", a slice of saw-toothed Southern boogie played with venomous intent. "Limousine" is simple but effective, a sheer wall of guitar that bludgeons to good effect.
CITY OF BOTHER AND LOATHE - Jukebox Zeros (Rankoutsider Records)
It's an EP on ashphalt-grey vinyl and the contents are as hard and grimy as any tarmac. The title track is a ripper, a grim punk play-on-words that pays tribute to the band's hometown of Philadelphia, where the hospitality is supposed to be on a par with parts of Detroit. So shoot me if that's wrong. "(Going Down To The) Cop Shop" is a lighter singalong and OK if that's its purpose. "Secret Streets" is more down the line of Dead Boys raunch that these guys have explored before. "Let's Get Zooed Out" just proves their immaculate taste. Anyone covering the Testors is fine by me and they do them justice. Released on Pat Tod's label. That should mean something to Lazy Cowgirls fans.
DON'T PANIC IT'S ORGANIC - Mighty High b/w METAL DAMAGE - Stone Axe (Ripple Music)
Mighty High describe their music as "regressive". Do we listen to anything in the I-94 Bar that isn't? There's a bit of metal in the punk grooves with these Greater New York heads but you can take that stuff too seriously. Mighty High don't and "Don't Panic" has a Rose Tattoo vibe to it. It's loud and vulgar and the sort of fare you'd probably liked shoved in your face at your local music pub on a Saturday night. No edges of the envelope are pushed but that's not the aim. A full-length album is overdue. Whether Mighty High could go the distance is a question that would need to be answered. Stone Axe come from Washington DC and sound like Iron Maiden. Enough said. "Number of the Beat" was bad enough the first time around.
COME ON KOMMANDO! b/w WE WANT THE LOT - The Movements (Parkeringshuset Productions)
These Swedes are one of the best Farfisa-acid punk bands in the world and the A side is their tribute to a German soccer team. Would you believe me if I said it's amazing? Swelling organ and trashed-up accompaniment with a chorus you could sing on the terraces. That's if you had an interest in soccer. Why anyone writes songs about soccer is beyond me. No matter. It's a killer song. The flip is no less a monster, produced by Bjorn Olsson of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. It was recorded in 2002 and has only just been released by the vaults. No- you explain that. Pinpoint guitar and a swirling keyboard down low does the job. Buy without fear.
HIT THE GROUND RUNNING b/w HEAVY MUSIC - Johnny Casino & The Secrets (Off The Hip)
First foray into the seven-inch singles scene by Melbourne label Off The Hip and they couldn't have had a better lead-off. The A side rolls out on a bed of acoustic guitar before riding a swelling feel and recalls some of the best stuff Chris Bailey did with his post "Monkey Puzzle" Saints in the early '80s. Jeremy Craib's keyboards add a fresh dimension. Fans of this band will need this and the rest of you should get on board pronto. The flip is a roaring cover of the classic finger-clicking Bob Seger and the Last Heard song from 1967, and if Johnny's vocal can't quite match that of the original it doesn't detract overall. A great feel to this and the band "owns" it.
]BUILT LIKE A ROCK b/w I LOVE HER SO - Barrence Whitfield (Q-Dee Records)
This Big Fella sure hits the notes. Rocking R & B from Boston's Barrence Whitfield backed by his "tighter than Tom Jones' pants" band The Monkey Hips. The A side runs on high-octane horn lines with Whitfield's beefy vocal and some neat guitar from Allan Sheinfield. Handclaps bring up the outro. "I Love Her So" is a bouncy bender of a boozehound song where Whitfield's vocal gets down and rolls around on the gravel.The guy has more than a touch of the late Solomon Bourke about him. Mario Perrett's tenor sax trades blows with handclaps and Sheinfield's barrelling piano. Much to recommend about this one.
]CRACK SYMPHONY b/w PLAN B/D.T.M.W.I.S. - The True Loves (Q-Dee Records)
Here's where Eli "Paperboy" Reed's backing band strike out on their own for a triple dose of funky blaxploitation-style instro's. Think "Theme From Rocky" meets "Shaft". "Crack Symphony" vamps away most regally. "Plan B" is more restrained with trumpet and sax leading the way. "D.T.M.I.S" is a guitar-and-bass dominated reprise of "Plan B". Pretty damn cool. The 45 is part of a package of six that you can order as physical product or download digitally (the latter for whatever you want to pay.) Sounds like a deal.
]TODAY YOU LOVE ME, TOMORROW YOU'LL HATE ME b/w SATURDAY LET ME DOWN AGAIN - Muck and the Mires (Q-Dee Records)
These guys have been around longer than God and deserve similar reverence. Muck and the Mires are beat music born in a noisy garage and while the A side is a keeper with its jagged riff and hooky chorus, it's the flip that'll grow on you. Yes, Saturdays can be a bummer and this is the sort of plaintive singalong that will convince you of the fact. It recalls the Real Kids and Brian Muck's guitarwork is very much on the money. Part with some of yours and own this.
BIG OL' HEART b/w DON'T BOOM BOOM - Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents (Q-Dee Records)3/4
The strong lead-off to the "Keeping Time" album is also the A side for this single by Boston soul revivalists Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents and if you like Motown-meets-Brill-Building girl-band pop with Stax grit, this will work for you. The most pliable of bass-lines, horns and Miss Jenny Dee's powerhouse vocal drive this one. The B side is a non-album cover of a Lillian Hale song(or so I'm told) and brings the backing singers to the fore. No lesser a work and essential even if you don't own the album. The whole series of six singles is beautifull;y packaged
DADDY'S THE MAN b/w SURRENDER TO THE DISCO KNIGHTZ - John Powhida International Airport (Q-Dee Records)
No flights leaving this international airport for me. I'm still in the departure lounge. The A is straight-up white boy disco funk and more than a little insipid to these ears. The flip is disco. They both contain drug references so there might be some piss being taken. You may like disco and white funk and think it's pretty good. This is not my cup of vanilla latte chai. however. Now move along. There's nothing to see here.
WE THREE KINGS b/w SILENT NIGHT - Merrie Amsterberg (Q-Dee Records)
If you think there's something odd about reviewing a Xmas record in an Australian February with the temperature wavering around the high (Celsius) 20s, think again. We're still catching up on Elvis leaving the building. Merrie Amsterberg is from the coffee shop circuit in Muchigan. I think she's moved to Boston. She sounds iike Mary Hopkins. She's joined in duets by some guys whose names are unfamiliar to me because I avoid Starbucks like the plague. This is mildly-rocking folk music. One for the Aimee Mann fans. The B side ismore sedate and country-ish with lap steel subtly in the mix.
LOSE YOURSELF b/w REASONS - Iowa (Desert Mouth Records)
Often bands can’t understand just what it is I’m actually abusing them about in my reviews. This is because I have read their press releases and clearly they have not. If they had, there is every chance they would neck up in embarrassment. The world would have been done a favour. Take Melbourne band Iowa for example. I could base an entire uncomplimentary review on the content of their press release. In the opening paragraph I’m told they are blessed with “tight-as-a-drum” song writing prowess. Further down the page, I find out that the lead track “Lose Yourself” is a sharp riff-driven dynamism (sic) written and recorded in one take. The release then tells me that the band subsequently struggled to remember how to play their parts. Now that really stretches my understanding of the concept of “tight-as-a-drum” song writing.
I listened hard for the sharp riff that was promised but really heard little more than a bog standard chord progression. I listened out for the alleged Sonic Youth style sheets of noise that apparently were hung off of surprisingly hummable hooks. I wondered if I’d put the wrong disc into the player. I could barely find a melody to hum so it’s fairly unlikely you’ll catch the milkman whistling anything he hears on this particular recording. The attached notes tell me rising super producer Jack Farley has plugged directly into the band’s aesthetics. I looked inside the cover and rechecked the envelope. No matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find any aesthetics anywhere. I am told the band is both lo-fi and widescreen but I cannot match these words and concepts to the noise coming out of the speakers. I wish this band was both lo-fi and widescreen. That sounds like it should be really interesting. Certainly, more fun than the disc I now hold in my hand.
Here is the best translation I can come up with: Iowa want to play rock but they’re not really very good at it. They’ve decided they can make up for this major shortcoming by being a little bit arty. Besides, they have noticed that art school girls wear really hot clothes and seem more likely to let you fuck them on a first date. They figure if they name check Sonic Youth and Swervedriver then that will be enough to at least get them in with the in crowd. Forget the fact they don’t have considerably less than half the wit of Sonic Youth or any of the melodic charm of Swervedriver. The underground scene has never really been all that choosey. Platitudes beat content any day. If super producer Jack Farley really wants to do these lads a favour, he should lock them in a room with the Velvet Underground box set and not let them out until they have learnt how to be cool. He may as well just throw away the key and be done with it. - Bob Short
TOTAL WASTE b/w EVERYBODY LEFT - Circle Pit (R.I.P Society)
So here's your choices: You've got school or work, lager, cider or bitter, Australian Rules or Rugby League. And if you want, you can have jalapenos on your scrambled eggs. Choices right? Cats and dogs or twin infinitives? Problem is you got too much. Of everything. Always. All you professional hobby MP3 farmers, you got your Trux sorted from your Black Lips and what does it all mean at the end of the day? It means you probably miss out on gems like this. And so you should. You don't deserve it. Circle Pit is (on this single) a duo with drums, guitars and vocals shared - at will, seemingly - between Jack Mannix and Ange Bermuda. They had a stand-in drummer (Owen from the Straight Arrows) who said he was booted out for reasons of competency. Circle Pit do, at times, trade vicariously on some Trux kicks, and who am I to complain (I'll have cats and dogs, by the way.) There's worse set pieces to form your tunes around. What they lack in the tight polished styling stakes, they make up with in the songs. What lifts this beyond some mere genre apeing is some great chemical interaction between the two, with some "fuck you" attitude and reptile charm. You made your choice yet? - Tom G
UNIBROW CLAN/DO THE DISHES - Cokerocket b/w TV VAMPIRE/HAVE A GUN - Singing Dogs (Primitive Records)
Don't ask me how I knew this split single was Italian. It's not like it had pizza stains on it. Second things first and Singing Dogs have a booming bottom end and a rhythm section that borders on the plodding, but somehow the misplaced crash cymbal accents and strangulated bass sound sit really well. Both "TV Vampire" and "Have A Gun" are mudpools of sludgy punk rock. AC Dog's vocals are run through some sort of filter on the second song (either that or the man can sing through his arse) and it suits the distorted production values. Cokerocket's side is even better; shout-sung vocals with Mozarella cheesy organ over grinding guitars. "Unibrow Clan" is catchy in a low-brow way. "Do The Dishes" ties lyrics about suburban chores to Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line". Silly but fun.
DIRTY BOMB b/w TIM HEMENSLEY - Bits of Shit (Lexicon Devil)
Remember that kid in high school who used to get around with a Hard-Ons T-shirt Monday to Thursday and then a Black Flag one on Friday to Sunday? He was pissed off about "something", smelt bad, had bad habits, strange friends and a bad diet. He was always talking bout getting a band together. You forgot about him, and maybe every now and again when you see a kid wearing a Flag or Kennedys shirt and wonder what happened to him. Did he grow up, stop going to weird punk rock shows, get a real job, get married, take up a macrobiotic diet...hell, did he maybe he even procreate? Possibly he started listening to "intelligent" music made by sensitive folksy songwriters and reads difficult books by Russian authors with hard to pronounce names. Or do you suppose he found solace with a few other middle aged punks with middle-aged spreads and bad attitude, and thought he could validate his existence, by venting his spleen? Or did he (and they) throw all of the above into the proverbial meat grinder of life and wring out a nasty little nugget, like this one? This seven-inch may or may not contain ex/future and past members of The Sailors, The Up-Syndrome, Ooga Boogas, The Orphans, and the Aqua nuggets, all shitting beautifully on their previous endeavours. Meaning it's a sloppy serve of some swift Killed by Death, Black Flag-like spew. A life's work then, really. There's 300 of these and they come with a neat little lyric sheet so you can sing along. I have been. A lot. - Tom G
WASTELAND FUGITIVES b/w INTO THE TAVERN/MY LAST DRINK - Die Wasted (Self released)
To say this Illinois three-piece plays sleazy glam rock is like saying Chicago gets cold in winter. It's self evident and underlined by vocalist-guitarist Roger Caustic singing like he's getting even with his mother for swapping his baby formula for Drain-O (life's hard in East St Louis.) The A side could be a Dead Boys song despite the dubious time changes. The NYC-via-Cleveland crew always played it pretty straight. The flip is a gentle ballad by comparison (which is to say it's only slightly reigned in.) Don't know why it's credited as two songs because it sounds like one. Whatever; it works. I could probably endure a long-player of this stuff and the guess is that it would be more shaken than stirred. Some leavening might have to go into a full albujm to make it go the distance but it's worth pondering.
CABLE TV EYE b/w HANDS UP! - Mighty High (Self released)
Brooklyn's Mighty High delight in receiving lousy reviews and then using them as promo so I'm not going to give them the satisfaction. Like the long lost cousins of Sydney's Psychotic Turnbuckles they play twin-guitar flamethrower rock with Detroit and Dictators overtones, with the wrestling schtick replaced by drug references. "Hands Up!" (rest of the lyric: "If you want to get high") couldn't be more like the 'Tators, circa "Blood Brothers", if it tried. That's absolutely fine with me, overdubbed crowd sounds and all. "Cable TV Eye" is nearly as good. A band that sounds like it knows how to have a bleary-eyed good time.
IT'S CHRISTMAS BABY! b/w IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY BABY! - The Ex-Boyfriends (Self released)
A seven-inch that has both events covered, this was released for the birthday of one of the band members. Substitute sleigh bells for bar-room piano, swap fuzz for clear tones and you'll work out these are the same song slightly-tweaked to fill out both sides. Nice idea 'cos it's a good simple tune and making things go further is a good concept in these austere times. Seriously, this Canadian rock-punk band can do little wrong to these ears. If you see a release by them, buy it.
TELL ME - Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings (Daptone)
Seven-inch single version of one of the best tunes from the "100 Days 100 Nights" long-player and it's here in stereo and mono versions. It seems redundant and not a little cliched to label Sharon Jones as "The First Lady of Soul" but there you go, we're not going to fall into that trap. If you know her stuff you'll know exactly what that means and you'll need this. Soul music done this well should be a staple on radio all round the world. Just as this one is on the Bar's (mono) jukebox - the natural home of big hole singles.
WET CEMENT b/w HEY MUM/THROUGH THE TREES - Eddy Current Suppression Ring (Mexican Summer)
THERE'S A LOT OF IT GOING AROUND - Eddy Current Suppresison Ring b/w THERE'S A LOT OF IT GOING AROUND - Deathwish (Distort Zine)
Two blink-and-you-missed 'em seven-Inchers by Eddy Current, who are a great singles band .These are a satisfying snapshot of the gaps between the "Primary Colors" and "Rush to Relax" albums . "Wet Cement" didn't smash home, but flip it over and you'll find two of the best songs the band has tossed off. "In the Trees" is a sub two-minute stomper that wouldn't have been out of place on their debut LP. The ECSR/Deathwish split single (which comes with issue 29 of Distort zine) is as good a picture of the band's past as you're going to get. This split comprises two versions of the Chosen Few's late '70s classic, one by Deathwish, the forerunner of that band. For The Chosen Few, think a more punked-up Birdman, with a rougher sound , somewhere in the neighbourhood of X, and you've got a pretty good idea of what they where shooting for. This is a rougher, sloppier version of the song they'd release under that name. ECSR have always chosen classy gems to cover and in the best tradition of covers, they've managed to make them their own. (Track down their take on The Pagans' "Boy Can I Dance" for evidence.) On this one they manage to glam up the already glam-punk original, taking some of the rough corners off without forsaking any of the attitude. "Distort" sine also serves up some important liner notes. A pretty damn good history lesson for all you budding punks. - Tom G
CAN DIG b/w GET OUT - Chinese Burns (Must Destroy Mankind Records)
Every now and again you stumble on a treat like this, something that is just so demented and absolutely fucken great that you have no other option than to repeatedly drag the needle back and back and back again. What's captured on it is just kicking your arse so hard that you're grinning like a retarded motherfucker, drooling and totally in thrall with this three-piece/three-chord thug punk gunk that's pummelling your brain into a Kreuzberg syndrome mush.Yeah, I'm hemorrhaging here, but it's that bloody good. Comparisons? Guess some Teengenarate, some Onyas, some Supercharger - and loads of some (probably) totally unobtainable and illegal glue, that's (barely) holding it all together. The Chinese Burns, will kick and destroy, and you my friend, will have no option other than to pick your dirty cock back up off the floor and put it back in your pants. Pretty much as damn near perfect as this shit gets. - Tom G
CAN DIG + STEAL MAGNOLIAS b/w GET OUT + EVERY DAY IS THE SAME - Chinese Burns (Must Destroy Mankind)
Four lovingly lo-fi slices of garage vom from a Melbourne crew whose background in bands like the Hymies, Eat Laser Scumbag (one of the GREAT band names of all time) and Straight Arrows holds them in good stead. It's what you might expect: razor wire guitars and boxy bottom-end, recorded in a toilet (by Eddy Current Suppression Ring/Ooga Boogas member) Mikey Squires with go-for-the-throat vocals. The Dee Dee-dumb vocals on "Steal Magnolias" are a plus as is the rhythmically driving "Every Day Is The Same". That feel's probably a trademark with these guys 'cos the barrelling "Can Dig" sounds like the Pretty Things in a tour van being driven over a cliff. They spent 20 bucks and a six pack on the studio but you care? - The Barman
I SELL SOUL b/w ROMEO & JULIET - Rocket From the Tombs (Hearthan/Smog Veil)
Since touring together in 2006 with ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd and longtime Pere Ubu drummer Steve Mehlman replacing deceased or otherwise department members, original Rockets David Thomas (Pere Ubu), Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys/Batusis), and Craig Bell (the only human who can claim membership in all three seminal CLE proto-punk units: RFTT, Mirrors, and Electric Eels) must have decided that not only could they stand being on the same stage together, but they had more to say together musically. Hence, this 7" bears two new songs. "I Sell Soul" chugs along with an air of early Ubu-esque menace and a singalong punk chorus. Flip's a ballad, of all things, highlighted by Thomas' trademark idiosyncratic vocal delivery and Lloyd's eccentric-but-emotive axework. More, please? - Ken Shimamoto
ULTRA PSYCHOTIC RESURRECTION: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL b/w BAD WORLD/OUT OF MIND - The Ultra 5 (Tryptific Records)
Something from the grave as a long-dead NYC garage band recording is dragged out of the dusty tape cupboard. Narcotic rhythm, swirling organ and Bob Urh's off-kilter vocal make this re-working of the classic Stones tune a dark and worthy trip. It doesn't so much ape the original as dress it up in a hospital gown and take it for a seven-minute walk. The organ from Ariane Root is at the heart of what makes this 1992 recording so great. The flip shakes you awake with a blast of organ before the strident "Bad World" kicks in, vocals mixed somewhere out there but the song isn't really getting out of second gear. "Out Of Mind" sounds vaguely like the Cramps set to a straight-up beat. Keyboards dominate both these cuts from '87 without the guitar getting much of a look-in. OK, but I'm drawn back to the A side.
BUZZSAW POPSTAR b/w DEATH DWARF - Vampire Killers (Plan 10)
Double blast of lo-fi live stuff from 1988 by a Brisbane punk-Goth band of ne'er do wells, members of which would go on to the Hitmen and Flying Tigers among others. This line-up features regulars Matt Le Noury and Shane Cooke with fill-in Ziggy Staten on drums and was recorded to cassette in some Brizzy dive in the '80s. "Buzzsaw": actually made a respectable dent in the Australian indie charts back in the day and caught the ear of both Rob Younger and Jello Biafra. This in-your-face version of the single holds up well. "Death Dwarf" is a break-neck Ramone-ic derivation that lives off a spiky guitar figure. Nasty and nice. It all sounds live and unpolished but that won't worry fans.
WHITE TRASH b/w HONEY (I'M HOME) - Sonic Negros (Zodiac Killer Records)
The dual blast of guitars and piano in the intro is the starting gate and after a brief pause, it's a wild ride to the finish on the A side, pressed up for a US tour in July 2009. Guest keyboardist and Hellacopters alumnus The Duke Of Honk (ex-The Solution) is the spice addition to a mean recipe. The flip is a Detroit monster wrapped around a wah-wah line and a pulverising beat, with a breakdown where sax mixes it with jagged six-strings. Mighty fine stuff that had me flipping through the racks for past releases. A must have if you're a fan of the Scandi Rawk but don't be afraid to try if you're not.
TV CABARET ROLL + HATE CITY b/w HOME IS WHERE THE FLOOR IS + GOOD ON YA BABY - X (Zenith Records)
So I'm going to say thios isn't essential? Re-mastered recordings of demo songs by the original line-up that you've probably heard before. Gil Matthews did the studio re-work and it sounds tremendous. "Good On Ya Baby" sounds much tougher than the more familiar LP version and proves what a lost asset the late Ian Krahe was. That the band's moved a long way away where it was in the '70s is immaterial; this bare bones rock and roll is some of the best primal music committed to tape (if only the world had been listening then - and the band had cared.) The current line-up is a vastly different kettle of fish for sure, but still capable of tearing you a new one. Let's hope the recently-found tape of even more demos by this line-up sees the light of day as a CD release soon.
REVENGE + DEGENERATE b/w BURN BABY BURN + RED HOT - Bulemics (Scarey Records)
It's ihardcore with guitar flash and cock rock attitude from Texas. When the band cites "drugs, hookers and booze" as their main influences you better believe them. The three originals and Motley Crue cover go past in a blur. hearing the Crue always made me feel unclean. Not my bag, maybe it's yours.
LAYIN' UP WITH LINDA b/w I WANNA FUCK THE SHIT OUTTA YOU/ OUTLAW SCUMFUC - GG Allin and The Carolina Shitkickers (Zodiac Killer)
It'll be sacrilege to the ears of some but to my mind the idea of GG Allin frequently outdoes the reality, and as blurry as the line between being the most extreme performer ever and taking the piss out of same becomes, I just don't (didn't) get him or his apparent lack of irony. So if one side of sloppy cuntry & western (being the A side) where the vocals aren't in synch with the music doesn't row my boat, you'd think a punked-up jam like "I Wanna Fuck The Shit Outta You" might hit the mark. Not quite, although the self-declaration blues of "Outlaw Scumfuc" ups the ante slightly. Both sides feature members of Antiseen and the flipside songs Allin's last recordings. One for the fans.
PIECE O' ME b/w BABY I LOVE YOU - Soul Movers (Munster)
Nice statement of intent by Deniz Tek's new soul and beat band. "Piece O' Me" is not the soul stomper you might expect up-front, but a laid-back original that builds on the back of Pip Hoyle's swelling keys to a lean ''n' clean Tek solo. Props to Miss Lizzie for her mighty vocal on this one. Flip is a bigger-sounding, Memphis-ized-cover of Aretha's "Baby I Love You" (and not the Ronettes song) that's replete with horns and sassy call-and-response vocalising. Another killer lead vocal by Lizzie and doesn't the engine room of Craig Harnath (bass) and Brett Wolfendon (drums) sound like it has it together. The only question is why is Deniz asleep in the photo on the back cover? The album will be better than good on the strength of this. Grab a copy in Australia here.
LOST AT SEA Volume 2 - The Dead Rocks/The Mysterious Tape Man/The Space Agency/Stronzo Gelatino & The Boo-Men (FuzznSurf Records)
Four-track EP of super surf instros. Stronzo Gelatino and the Boo-Men hail from Germany and are propelled by frantic rhythms rather than classic surf feels. There's a flamenco tinge to their contribution, the live "King Kong Cologne." The Space Agency are from the UK and their "Sakura No Ame" is genre-true surf guitar. The Mysterious Tape Man hails from New Zealand and carves out a nice line in furious fretwork on the lo-fi "Asteroid." Who is this masked man? The boxy drums add to the ambience. The Dead Rocks are from Brazil and round things off nicely with a quiet piece, "Kalamanawa", where tasteful licks rule the roost.
ELECTRIC BABIES b/w GO HOME/LOSER'S RECIPE - Left Arm (Trouble In River City)
Unadorned guitar punk is a beautiful thing and "Electric Babies" is a prime example. This St Louis trio locks into a mean feel at the top, the guitar scurries and the singer harangues. Brad Evetts has a cutting voice and a guitar tone to match. Jim Diamond recorded it at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit so you know it sounds good."Go Home" finds Hammond organ in the mix but the song's no more relenting than the A with a nice twisted lead-break. "Loser's Recipe" is even more frantic. The band calls their music Tardcore. I ain't arguing. Grab it here and score their earlier album while you're at it.
UPSIDE DOWN b/w DOWN AND OUT - Dee Rangers (Bootleg Booze Jukebox Series)
The first in a series of "big hole" jukebox 45s from Sweden's coolest vinyl label and too much praise can't be laid on it. Dee Rangers play 60's beat-influenced music. You might have known that. What kicks them ahead of the pack is the energy overload they apply to each song. "Upside Down" rides a swell of guitar and organ all the way to a satisfying brace of choruses that book-ends a wild lead-break. The B-side is a cover of a song by Dutch freakbeat band 4PK that locks into a super groove and never lets up. A demented vocal and extremely twisted guitar break are icing on this cake. Cut yourself a big slice. - The Barman
STICKY SITUATIONS b/w SHAKIN' ALL OVER + WILD HEARTS BEAT FREE - Poison Arrows (Full Breach Kicks)
This is a great slice of powerpop punk on an EP by a four-piece from Atlanta, Georgia. It's the sort of stuff people either used to lap up via college and community radio stations or blast in record shops before they bought a copy - back in the '80s when the seven-inch single was still a genuine currency. "Shakin' All Over" isn't the '60s tune - it 's an original and sounds more like the Raspberries - while "Wild Hearts Beat Free" comes over like a paler version of the late Star Spangles. That's still OK with me.
- The Barman
CHICANE b/w DETECTOR - Ex Humans (Full Breach Kicks)
Not to be confused with the Ex Humans from Greece in the '80s, these Brooklyn old-schoolers burst out of the speakers like a tribe of barbarians sozzled to the gills on mead, pillaging a village. "Chicane" is two-and-a-thjrd minutes of chainsaw pop, falling into a breakdown before revving up again at the exit gate. "Detector" starts off all glammy and develops into a punk rock stomp. It's only a notch down the scale from the A side. No surprise to see there's a Star Spangles (R.I.P.) member on board. An album could be life-affirming, if not changing. - The Barman
MY PAL - God (Butchers Hook)
You can go and get your little Frilly Knickers (I know you wear them, sirs!) in a twist again, and quit tooling round Youtube, watching (the hilariously essential Factory appearance) and go and pick this re-issue up and pretend you always had it anyway. I shouldn't be so flippant and off-the-cuff 'bout this 45, as it means more to me than I would probably let on to anyone...actually I consider it a righteous honour to spill more ink over this track (as if anyone, reading this, needs reminding of its timless quality). For anyone else, it's a totally essential slice of late '80s, teen-garage pop, straight out of Melbourne, that should have been, huge...I guess the devil just wasn't up for deals at the time...even tho' souls were cashed in later.- Tom G
DON'T ASK WHY b/w ONE MORE DANCE - The Pink Fits (Outback Records)
A side is taken from their exellent "Fuzzyard Gravebox" Lp. (Off the Hip Records), from a few moons ago.The interest lies in it having a cool non-album cut, "One More Dance", which is a Sonics-style piano Pounder, which for me beats the A-side.The Fits manage to cram just enough Punk into their Rock, to ever keep its sliding into any sort of Trad Rock and Roll retread. Again a dish, best savoured live (and not enough, if you're living in Victoria), but as it's pretty much recorded that way. And there ain't too much studio trickery going down here. Increase the volume, close your eyes and you should be in Wollongong.- Tom G
TIMEBOX b/w WHAT LOVE IS FOR - Plexi 3 (Full Breach Kicks)
Mod pop-rock from Milwaukee and proof that city can produce more than weak beer and even weaker comedians (Drew Carey, are you reading this?) Vocalist-guitarist Wendy Norton has a distinctive voice (which is code for her sounding like someone I can't quite put my finger on) and "Timebox" sounds like a cartoonish version of The Creation with a female singer (that's a compliment, by the way). There's an obvious nod to the Who along the way. Bassist Adam Widener takes over vocals on the flip which is a bouncy punker that recalls the Mumps, especially when Norton adds her harmonies to the mix. The whole shebang winds up with a vaguely cowpunk outro. Pretty alluring stuff that works its way into the memory bank to prompt another spin. More of this stuff at MySpace. - The Barman
GODDAMN b/w UGLY - Knife Fight (Kato Records)
A bunch of New Zealand thugs, who throw just the right amount of "Billy" into their Brand of Punk Rock, to keep this sliding off into any sort of art territory. Sure, you have heard this racket before, from any number of In The Red type noiseniks, and they (the band themselves), may well be keen on some of the '90s, Steve Albini noise type forays (Jesus Lizard et al). Then again I could be well wrong here in trying to pin a tail on a donkey that doesnt exist. But by keeping matters underneath the two-minute mark pinning down influences proves to be rather futile (and doesn't hurt the band none). Hey, if they get any better they may well end up being called Aussies.
- Tom G
TELL THE WORLD EP - Vivian Girls (Woodsist)
Not the Australian troupe, which called it a day not to long ago, but three, girls outta Brooklyn, New York, who - apart from sporting some interesting ink - bang thru' three moody garage stompers with nice fuzzy guitars (think clean "fuzzy" a la '60s "Nuggets" rather than buzzsaw Ramones fuzz) with what sounds like all three gals throwing harmonies, over the top of their toons - like honey on toast. Depending on who you belive, this trio could be the next big thang (in a Jay Reatard way) and/or (like it is for me) simply a good start to the day. Oh, and if you like these three tracks , there's a full-lengther out on In the Red (or throw one at www.viviangirls.net).- Tom G
DEAF NEWS b/w IT'S SICK - Deaf Wish (Stained Circles/Idget Child)
Melbourne has a long, thick , mean streak of this sort of angular , art-thug-rock, running thru it that's as murky as our Yarra River....blame the weather, blame the Birthday Party (who dragged this sorta thing , to its logical conclusion some moons ago) but buried beneath the thick squals of guitars, the dedicated listerner could hack out some decent songs here. It only really starts making sense, the louder you crank this up, ....I don't know how far my patience would go with a long player of this sort of 'stuff. It may test my mettle if they can't put over any other solution than Noise over Noise. But for the moment, live and on a seven-inch single, this does fine, and it would be a good way to piss off your Coldplay-loving housemates and get some street cred. (I got my tounge stuck, firmly, well half anyway, in cheek) .- Tom G
PUSHIN' THE ENVELOPE b/w GOOD BOOKS - Legends of Motorsport (Torn and Frayed)
I think by the time you read this , the Legends may have done their final round, so this could well be their Swansong.The A side gives you a nice fat organ-driven stomper (don't even think '60s, Mummies, et al Farfisa) but heads off towoards more of a Coachwhips-style terrritory. So get your "garage ears" tuned into more of a stop-start, angular punk-maths-rock. Lyrics deal in matters, of the value of self-belief and bragadaccio and Im' not so sure 'bout the personnel upon this, (the Legends always had a revolving line up of local guitar slingers) it'll make yar head rotate, Googlin' em all into order while you spin this....off ya go, geeks.- Tom G
TOTAL CONTROL - Total Control (Aarght!)
Four-song cleanish-sounding "punk" single with Eddy Current folk that flashes on new wave and touches of D.C.-styled hardcore, but forget 'bout all of that as its quite original (apart from an pretty cool Swell Maps cover of “Full Moon”). I did say "flashes on" right?- Tom G
A NICE QUIET CHAT b/w WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD TIMES GONE? - Hoss (Bang! Records)
Not exactly super “new', then again its still better than half the crud thats done the run in the last three years. No choruses (again) to be found here, just nice big shit-eating riffola that wouldnt leave Garage Punkers who got some love for The Real Kids or perhaps a little Cheap Trick disapointed. And if you can bring yourself to flip this over you'll get a nice workout of the Kinks' "Good Times". Can't poke holes in the playing...it's perfect, as you'd expect from a crew that's been around the block once or twice. I just wish they'd write more songs, choruses or not! - Tom G
Melbourne's rarely-sighted but often amazing Hoss re-surface with this 45 on Spanish label Bang and, yes, it's worth tracking down (which you can do via Munster Records). "A Nice Quiet Chat" is actually a nice noisy conversation with Joel Silbersher and Jimmy Sftesos laying some nice guitar all over a mid-tempo strut. In case you're wondering, Hoss do justice to the Kinks classic on the flip (no mean feat), not straying far from the original (but who cares?) This the band's first recordings in four or five years. Sounds like the precursor to an album. Here's hoping. - The Barman
CAN'T COUNT b/w SOMETHING HAPPENED - Straight Arrows (Juvenile Records)
Super crude power pop punker that would leave most of you Posies, Big Star, jingly jangly "songwriters" shitting your pants. If Phil Spector set up a boombox in a junkyard and forced the Ramones to listen to a pile of "Back from the Grave" comps and fuelled em on speed and cider, ya might get within a bee's dick, of what these (S)Punks are tooling for. The aforementioned Jingly Jangly crowd should maybe check some adult Diapers, because a full-lengther just got put down on tape!!- Tom G
EP - Super Wild Horses (Aarght!)
Six songs on a 45 would suggest economy, even to a lost maths soul like me. Whats the sound? Two girl, fuck you 'tude, cheapo organ-drum-guitar workouts that I can't really put my finger on (which I can only sugest is a good thing). The whole thing reminds me of listening to a noisy pissed-off agrage jam while sitting in some of those drains in Hawthorn. A nice cacophony... misplaced noise is what its is and what I love.- Tom G
THAT TIME OF THE DAY - Eddy Current Supression Ring (Nervous Jerk)
The Currency pack out halls, quicker than you can snap your greasy "Denny Burger Fingers" these days (probably got to do with the fact that they write good songs, are a little more selective bout the (good) Shows which they puton, and the fact that a certain 'Youth Network Radio- Station” gives them airtime). But I digress. This 45 sees them head back to a more 'Garage' sound , than last years 'Primary Colours' lp, which kicked up a fair amount of Dust with its dare I say 'clean-new-wave-stylings. This has ,one of my fave E.C.S.R tunes "Noise In My Head"...which nods nicely (to my ears anyway) to "Psychotic Reaction". Anyway if you found last year's Long Player not grimy enough, hunt this one down, and wig out for it's more Paisley shirts than skinny ties. - Tom G
THE WORLD'S LOUSY WITH IDEAS VII - The Super Wild Horses + The U.V Race + Eddy Current Suppression Ring + Straight Arrows (Aarght! Records)
An EP as such, showcasing one (exclusive to this 45) song each by The Super Wild Horses, The U.V Race, The Straight Arrows, and Eddy Current Supression Ring. Essential? Yes very much so, if you want a feel of what's going on right now in Melbourne-town in terms of good new music, this is a good baromoter. The Straight Arrows sound their most Psychadelic and fuzzed out, probably their best sounding track that I've heard. As for the UV Race, its probably the best thing on this bit of wax (today) anyway. The lyrics would fit onto the back of a Postage stamp. As for all you Collector Scum, theres 'bout five different covers so good luck chasing em all down. For those simply wanting a nice overview of whats going down, and are curious bout the Noise, start here. - Tom G
EP-45 - Bill Shankly (KOP 12/ INSTANT 4 Records)
Eleven Tracks on a 45, NECROS T-shirts and shout-outs to Negative Aproach, Faith and Void should make matters, quite clear, very quickly, as to where you're heading before the needle even hits the vinyl. So I'm stroking my chin, wondering why not go and just pull out "First Four Years", "Pay to Cum" and maybe some Sick Things? Well I can't quite put my finger on it but I quess colloquialism and brevity - and above all all a thick streak (seemingly) of fun kept me flipping it over and over again for another round... Sure these things all got taken to their logical nadir (seemingly) along time ago, but like I all of the above...colloquialism and brevity,that is, and no, definitely no to nostalgia. I don't go in for that. - Tom G
FUCK OFF AND DIE b/w ZOE IS A WEIRDO/SAVED BY THE BELL (PIANO VERSION) - Backyard Babies (Bootleg Booze)
If the Hellacopters are vacating the throne there's probably a place for the Backyard Babies with their brand of histrionic, gritty glam rock. Truth be told, I was bracing myself for a Guns n' Roses outtake when the needle dropped, but the A side is a bit worthier than that. Catchy and of course the use of the f-word will please the kids in the moshpit and celebrity chefs alike. When it's all said and done, the guitar playing's still a bit metal for my tastes. Of the B side songs, "Zoe" is a cool and concise slice of punk-metal. While the ballad that follows is better left unmentioned, I'm sure there's an American teen soap soundtrack it can end up on.
DIRTWEED b/w DON'T LOOK DOWN - The Live Ones (Striped Zebra)
A former Fuzztone, drummer-vocalist Mike Czekaj, heads this grizzled New York City power/sleaze trio whose sound recalls Dead Moon or DMZ rather than a '60s punk crew. The dull roar of Jon Czekaj's guitar struggles to cut through the muffled mix on the A side but the quality of the song shines through. Mike Czekaj's rumbling vocal sounds like Mono Man with a hangover. Great stuff. "Don't Look Down" is an angry, slow burn with an idiosyncratic Czekaj guitar solo that positively sears. I wasn't initially sold on this one but it grew with a few spins. I'd love to hear a full-length album. It sounds like The Live Ones have an appreciation for three chords and a rock-solid beat that comes with experience. Age before beauty and all that.
THE BATTLE OF BEING IN LOVE/MY INNER CLOUD - The Movements (self released)
The first of a series of limited edition, analogue-recorded 45s from the band's own studio to promote forthcoming tours by the ace Gothernberg garage-psych kings. It's magic stuff. Run, don't run, to your keyboard and order a copy here because they will become scarce. The A is a breakneck collision of agitated keyboards and spiraling guitar, a vamping explosion of sound that holds up against anything similar that'll cross your path. Think the Music Machine with a gun. Scarifying guitar introduces the flipside before a quirky keyboard line kicks in and a strong chorus hits its stride. This is too good to only be heard by a few European '60s punk fans and festival folk. Can't wait to hear the album, due in late February '08. These songs won't be on it but it threatens to be a monster, regardless.
COMING AROUND AGAIN b/w I FEEL HIGH -M Baby Woodrose (Bad Afro)
I had a dream that mainstream radio actually cared about what they played. And what they played was righteous garage-psych rock-pop like Copenhagen's Baby Woodrose. Then I woke up. The A side was originally intended for the last album, "Chasing Rainbows", and would have slotted in easily with its chugging rhythms and twangy guitar. "I Feel High" kicks in like an early Died Pretty song with static yielding to a swelling keyboard line. Acoustic guitar underpins a measured tune about excess. Nice song with some neat studio tweaks. Sludgy but sweet like hot fudge. Limited to 1000 copies and neither song will be on the next album so take that as a warning. Buy or die.
FACTORY LINE/TALK TO JANE - Gun Crazy b/w CRASH AND BURN KIDS/DILEMMA DOLL - Teen Cool (Cutthroat Records)
I-94 Bar regular Ken Shimamoto gave me the heads-up on Gun Crazy nearly a decade ago and it's taken this long to hear something of theirs. These days there's some cross-pollination with their ranks including members of Born Liars and Bad Rackets. This split EP from a Houston label pits these two no-nonsense bands against each other, both within the confines of Austin's semi-legendary The Bubble studio. Neither disgrace themselves. Teen Cool existed from 1993-2003 and play(ed) a tuneful strain of Killed By Death punk.The vocalist-guitarist sounds a bit like Bob Mould and thre best song, "Dilemma Doll", sounds like a punked-up Dictators. Gun Crazy is an apt name for a Texan band. Vocalist Jimmy Sanchez does a nice line in whine and the rhythms are a bit more measured than Teen Cool but, what the hell, it's still very good. Twin guitars buzz around like flies on a mixed drink in summer on "Talk to Jane". Production is by Mike Mariconda (Raunch Hands) and Frenchie Smith (Young Heart Attack), both well-regarded Austin hands to have behind a sound desk.
BANDOLERO MEXICANO - Chuck Violence (Shit In Can Records)
Some strange things come out of France (and I don't just mean Johnny Halliday.) This four-song EP of hillbilly swing might be the weirdest. Compounding things is the fact that Chuck Violence is a one-man band from Brazil. One-man "band" might be a bit misleading as there's a shortage of multi-instrumentation. Chuck's a bit of a minimalist. Cleanly-recorded with steel string guitar prominent and the percussion limited to foot stomps, it's inoffensive and slightly demented when Chuck breaks into one of his funny voices. Brazil is as valid a place for cowboys to come from with no shortage of pampas.
(I'VE GOT TO) LEAVE YOU WAY BEHIND b/w TAKE ME TO YOUR HONEYPOT - The Stems (Freshwater Records)
It's pretty clear from offline discussions with those close tot he action that a few good tracks didn't make the cut for the new-ish Stems album and if you needed hard evidence you need look no further than this limited release single on a Japanese label. "Leave You Way Behind" is a seriously great album track that grows an extra leg in the live context. Let's now note that its studio version sounds mighty fine on a 45. The flip is a tub-thumpin' churner, keys doing battle with a spiraling guitar solo while the engine room cooks up a stormy backbeat. This goes right to top of the I-94 Bar jukebox playlist. The 45 was released to coincide with The Stems' visit to Japan so if you need a copy, go here.
MAD EVIL WOMAN b/w NO RULES/SINCE I MET YOU - Four Flamingos (Bootleg Booze)
Debut recording for a Swedish four-piece. The A side rocks along on the back of a guitar riff that's more jagged than the wreckage of a four-car-pile-up on a German autobahn. Lead vocalist Manne Olander has a fine set of lungs when working hard in the upper register and the twin-guitar outbursts are up to matching him.The short "No Rules" works similar hi-energy territory to devastating effect, dropping its payload and moving off before the smoke has a chance to clear. Instrumentally, it sounds a little like like early Hitmen. "Since I Met You" eases the pace back a couple of notches and shows a band with shade as well as white light heat in its armoury. Nice closer.
OUTLAW RACER/TIME'S UP- Black Radio b/w BORN TO KILL/LAST OF A DYING BREED - The Ruling Class (Bootleg Booze)
Bootleg Booze is good at setting up these knock 'em down match-ups over the course of a split-single, this time pitting English trucker cap rockers Black Radio against Swedish trash speedrock quartet The Ruling Class. I hate to sit on the fence with this (it gives you splinters in the arse) but it really is a dishonorable draw. The Ruling Class have a frenetic balls-out relentlessness that's every bit as intense as the dirty runaway steamroller that Black Radio set in motion. It's an exhausting trip but if you're into the Eurotrash stash peddled by, say The Backyard Babies, this will sit well on your turntable.
PEARL - Powertrane b/w SHE MESSED UP MY MIND - The Solution (Electrophonic Records)
Get in fast 'cos this one won't last long. "Pearl" is honest-to-goodness rockin' soul from Scott Morgan's fabulous but under-appreciated Michigan band Powertrane. Easily the most commercial song on their "Beyond The Sound" album with organ and female backing vocals filling out the sound and complementing Robert Gillespie's clean guitar tones and Morgan's compelling voice, it's being released on New Hampshire label Electrophonic with a limited run on gold vinyl with hand-numbered sleeves. The careful mastering's paid off because it sounds superb. The Solution is Morgan's back-to-his-roots Swedish-based soul band, whose second album has been oddly under-promoted by their Euro label. This song's from the first one that charted its head off and it's an unreleased live version that shows off an already great song to even better effect. Order from Scott Morgan Music or the label Myspace.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER/MEMORY LINE b/w ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS/THE BALLAD OF WILL-O-THE-WISP - The Cheeks (Beyond Your Mind)
This German five-piece employs a near perfect blend of organ, skewed pop harmonies and guitar to come up with a killer EP. Apparently their last album on the same label was a psych-pop thing but this updates the '60s beat genre with their own stamp. Singer Rono has a warm vocal that sits perfectly with their sound. They sound like an agreeable cross between The Strollers and The Stems. How they stayed under my wire so long (their first long-player was on Screaming Apple in 1997) I don't know but I want to hear more. You should know that Lana Loveland of The Fuzztones guested on organ and the black vinyl they pressed it on is thick enough to be a manhole cover.
THE SAME LAME STORY b/w IT'S ALL MOVING FASTER The Hellacopters (Bootleg Booze/Psychout)
Not lame at all. Having announced they're hanging up the boots and going out with a final album and a lap of honour in 2008, Sweden's 'Copters mark the beginning of their end with a single on ultra-cool Bootleg Booze. The A side's a grittier effort than most of the material on the last album,"Rock and Roll Is Dead", and it's a little unassuming in spite of itself but still worthy of jukebox time. The flip builds from Kenny's bassline and bursts out into the light, more raucous and in the vein of "By The Grace of God". If it's a dead horse it doesn't sound like it's getting flogged.
WIRED FROR THE LAST MOVE b/w BASEMENT STAR - Crimson Sweet (Slow Gold Zebra)
Bitterly sweet, new wave-ish punk rock from New York City. Polly Watson's dirty and vulnerable vocal strains to nail the chorus (adding to therough-hewn charm) as her three bandmates kick up a storm behind her on "Wired...". Nice twin guitar attack. "Basement Star" is a rabid split personality tune that draws a line down the middle of poppy UK punk (a la Buzzocks) and glammy new wave. Clever lyrics too. Watch out, this stuff may be infectious. Bad luck they've broken up.
YOU ARE DEFEATED b/w LOLLYSHOP INSIDE MY HEAD/KARATE KID II - The DangerMen (Swashbuckling Hobo Records)
A reminder that one of Brisbane's best punk rock bands is still around, kicking them out, and a good way to launch that city's newest label. This is also notable for the fact that Mad Macka (The Onyas/Cosmic Psychos/The Egos) is along for the ride on guitar (presumably just foir this release.) "...Defeated" is a six-pack of punk raunch that'll probablky grow on me but at the moment I don't like it as much as the album. "Lollyshop" sounds like a companion piece to the A but "Karate Kid II" lifts the variation with some furious guitar from Macka and Rock. Is it imagination or is Muchos Larmos playing twice as many drum fills as he used to?
TROPICAL MEDS/GOOD INTENTIONS - 1-800-Band b/w FAKEYED HEARTSCREW - Snakes (Slow Gold Zebra)
Maybe it's the off-kilter vocals and sparse arrangements but 1-800-BAND sound for all the world like a candy-coated Television playing bent pop songs. Of course this isn't some Klaatu-inspired copycat stunt - the femme vocal isn't as likely to result in calls to the RSPCA as Verlaine's - and the liner insert reveals 1-800-BAND to be the members of snotty NY punk-popsters Crimson Sweet in moonlighting mode. Pretty off-beat and pretty good stuff. No idea who Snakes are but there's a strong suspicion there may be some Crimson Sweets laying it on thick. "Fakeyed Heartscrew" is a plodding piece of maudlin downtime that's not so inspiring.
CITY SLANG b/w ELECTROPHONIC - Sonic's Rendezvous Band (Devil's Jukebox Records)
High-time this that the Godhead of songs was officially re-released as a single. "City Slang" is simply one of the top three or four rock and roll songs of all time. No argument. Obscuro UK label Devil's Jukebox licensed this from Easy Action for a numbered run of 666 copies. Of course the incredibly underrated "Electrophonic Tonic" should have been the B side of the original seven-inch (the flip was a mono "Slang") so Devil's Jukebox have righted a wrong brought about by a tiff between band members all those years ago. My only issue is that "Slang" is at 33rpm and "Electro" is a 45 so only the latter will play on the jukebox, but a compromise would have rendered things sounding sonically inferior.
ARMA LARJANA/BESTA-FERA split EP - Arma Larjana/Besta-Fera (Cafe & Raiva)
If there was a one-sheet with this it's been misplaced. Maybe it's a good thing because I'm sick of press releases citing influences that tend to prejudice all-important first impressions. Both bands are from Brazil (I think) and are fronted by female singers. They both get three songs a side. Arma Larjana are a trio with Bianca handling vocals and guitar - with aplomb on both counts. These guys (and gal) sound like a Ramoniac speed metal band with some loose bits around the edge. It's relentless and bruising - so much so that the songs tend to blur into one after a while. Besta-Fera go for the throat too but their fury's moderated by Renatha's taut but melodic basslines and Podrinho's inventive guitar. The call-and-response vocals in "Camhinos Cinzentos" are ragged enough to keep it interesting with the descending chord pattern and of "Pulo Do Coyote" putting it in the punk-pop zone. Almost.
16 FOREVER b/w STAY WITH ME - The Dictators (Norton)
Long overdue airing for the shoulda-been-a-hit-single-showstopper "16 Forever" and the similarly fab "Stay With Me" - which you must know from the "Bloodbrothers" LP or (if you're an Aussie) from the live version the Screaming Tribesmen made their own back in the '80s. It took the Nomads to get there first with "16 Forever" but thank the gods that now you can hear the original in all its sublime rock-pop glory. Andy Shernoff takes the vocal on a mix that for some reason was never finished. Manitoba is back behind the mic on "Stay With Me", a demo version of the track that made it to LP. Apparently these are tasters for the retrospective compilation of demos and rarities Norton should have out on CD by now.
MAKIN' EYES b/w DON'T SLANDER ME - The Double Agents (In-Fidelity)
They're snake's eyes, he's makin', sho'nuff. Great country-twinged shuffle from Melbourne's kings of tumbleweeds and tombstones and Australia's answer top the Gun Club. Miss Kim's slightly rough-edged vocal sits gun-in-holster with the rusty spur accompaniment. Fans of The Hangmen of the Supersuckers will love it and it's beautifully packaged. The flip is Sir Roky's '90s comeback classic and if it doesn't match the manic abandon of the original, it's still purty damn good anyway. Y'all can never have too much Roky. Wonderful stuff if it's a taster for the album.
DESTROY b/w LOST/ I'M FED UP (Bootleg Booze)
Mary's Kids are Mary Currie (ex-Mensen) and three boys and this is their debut release. No better way to make a mark, either, with three slices of wholesomely loud and melodic rock and roll. "Destroy" gets along on a catchy guitar line and Mary's appealing vocal. If you're Australian, think Gazoonga Attack with lotsa Ramones. If you're not, buy it anyway. There's a rare crunch in the guitars and Mary's voice is exceptional. On the flip, "Lost" spotlights Ramblin' Roy's fine fretwork and "I'm Fed Up" isn't quite in the same league but who cares, I wanna hear a full album. Maybe they can call it "Mary's Kids Are Alright?"
S.E.P.U. - The Phenons b/w ROCK N ROLL DESTRUCTION MACHINE - It Burns (Beer Can Records)
Straight-up punk rawk from a now defunct Midwestern band called It Burns, and it does. Their song is delivered with a grim intensity that would give Lemmy a run for his beer money. There's a little element that reminds me of feedtime but it's otherwise orthodox punk. Funnily enough, Chicago's The Phenons have a lot of Motorhead in them as well and their cut "S.E.P.U." sounds like it's driving off a cliff (meant in the best possible way.) A nice split single of lo-fi punk blurt and on clear vinyl. Roll your mouse over the cover at right and you'll see that my pre-school son appears to be due royalties for the artwork.
THE UNDERTAKER CANCELLED b/w FIGHTING OF THE EVIL EYE - Tijuana Hercules (Black Pisces Records)
Yet another stripped-down duo, surely a sign of global hard times and thus an ideal mode for playing Da Blues.
The A is a rattling good lament, all roosty punk blues wailin' in the style of the Captain, if you get the Beefheart drift. These guys don't play your usual fucked up punk blues; this is more rustic. The flip is a thing on National steel guitar that didn't really pique my interest as much. My copy included a hand-drawn cartoon by vocalist-guitarist John Vernon Forbes. Yours will too. Email for a copy.
DANGEROUS BLUE b/w SISTER ANNE + SHIT LIST - The Dynaminds (A Better Sleeve)
MC5-stylised Dee-troit rawk is only shitty when it's too derivative for its own good and/or sucks, and there's no suggestion these Germans are either. "Dangerous Blue" is all driving bottom end, swirling keyboard wash and Motor City attitude with the octane-propelled guitar only cutting in at the death. The "Sister Anne" cover is faithful largely to the Five's original but mixes it up in the Mosrites to apply some different window dressing. I like it, as well as the closer "Shit List" which has an echo of latter day Sonic Smith and his jazz chording circa "Gold" and is catchy as a cold. My only complaint is that it's 33rpm both sides (and thus not jukebox fodder.) One question, however: Did someone leave something off the front artwork?
NOT PSYCHO ENOUGH? Vol 3 - Hell Crab City/Meatbeaters/Interstater/Gazzonga Attack (Dull City Records)
NOT PSYCHO ENOUGH? Vol 2 - Loathar/Jerry Spider Gang/Spank My Jones/The Dry Retch (Dull City Records)
Australia volume first (that'd be 3) and the home-towners do their countrymen proud on the latest vinyl E.P. in the series of tributes to the Cosmic Psychos on Norwegian label Dull City. Honours to Hell Crab City from Sydney for\ the way they've nailed "Pub" although it has to be said that it's a split match between Gazoonga Attack (the polite "Come On Cunt"), Meatbeaters (the menacing "Back In Town") and the lighter but still substantial Interstater ("David Lee Roth".)
On volume 2, France's Jerry Spider Gang is a band I'm really warming to, especially on the back of a magnificently dirty and searing "Can't Come In". It's all careering guitars and extreme energy. Spank My Jones is one of those Norwegian bands most of the world never hears about and their "Crazy Woman" takes on a psychedelic/psycho Stooges edge. The Dry Retch is a little bit of Australian Detroit in England and do a fine job on "Rain On You". Lothar are from Finland and their "Supervixen" crosses over into new wave territory with cheesy keyboards cutting through. Bet the Psychos never considered that augmentation. Nice variation, though, as the danger with tributes is that they can stay too close to the original.
PLAYTHING b/w CANDY/MAMA'S BOY - Thee Minks (Steel Cage)
What's not to like about the latest single from Philadelphia's coolest punk trio? The A side sounds like the B-52s on steroids with demented punk rock chick vocals and guitars instead of dinky keyboards. "Plaything" is apparently a song about their drummer (who's lucky enough to go by that same name) and it's a riot from go to whoa. The flipside is more of the same and, yes, "Mama's Boy" is a Ramones cover from "Too Tough To Die", a maxim you could apply to Thee Minks without hesitation. Bump and grind with amps on 11.
BUTT PIRATE LUV b/w F U IN THE A - Blowfly (Steel Cage)
The founder of X-rated funk-punk comes through. More anally-fixated than pre-rehab Turbonegro, the self-confessed fudge-packers that make up this Florida four-piece probably do wear the wrestling masks they sport on the cover in real life, if only to keep their identities a secret. The A side is a spirited and smutty take on the Heartbreakers classic and it's a no-brainer that if Blowfly (the vocalist and/or the band) could dig up Johnny and Jerry they'd give them both a public skullfucking. The B side doesn't hold the attention as much as sneak in the back door, if you get the drift. The accompanying one-sheet says this is Blowfly's first single since their landmark X-rated rap song of 1979. Why doesn't that surprise? Rumour has it that the second pressing will come with a tube of lube. See for yourself when Blowlfy tours Australia in February and March '07.
HUNGRY CANNIBALS (Non Intro Version) b/w ROCK BOTTOM - Radio Birdman (Steel Cage)
Yes, you read right. The first Radio Birdman seven-inch since, oh, the "Aloha" re-issue. Grab it now 'cos it won't be around forever. This is an edited version (sans Jim Dickson's expansive intro) of one of the best songs from the "Zeno Beach" album, plus a non-album B side, the slow-burn Masuak/Younger composition "Rock Bottom". Strangely vetoed from the CD by most members of the band, it's by no means deserving of orphan status and stomps around like it means business. Nice Mazaphonic lead break too. If you don't know "Cannibals", it's a garage-tuned romp with a stinging turn of lyrical phrase and a knowing Younger vocal. Nice double-sided, foil-styled cover when you slip the red vinyl out of the plastic sleeve and the pressing is suitably loud. Nice package, all up. To order, drop Steel Cage a line, god bless 'em.
RSVP/FUTURE NOW - The Holy Curse b/w TREATIN' ME KIND/ROY THE BOY - Johnny Casino's Easy Action (Turborock Records)
Double dose of full-bore rock and roll that would have snapped up Single of the Year around these parts if not for Radio Birdman's return to the seven-inch racks. We might even score it a draw, such is the quality of this. France's best real rock band, The Holy Curse, sets the bar high with their own "RSVP", a frantic shot of adrenalin committed to tape during their 2005 Australian tour. Producer Deniz Tek adds guitar to the second track, a righteous MC5 cover. Johnny Casino's Easy Action shows the same impeccable rock leanings with their side of the platter, two originals that'll pass muster any day of the week. Spittles the Younger never sang so well. The single's on a little French label. Order it here, you'll kick yourself if you don't.
NOBODY LIKES THE HULK b/w TAKE IT OFF - The Maggots (Bootleg Booze)
More Bootleg Booze goodness, this time from the always interesting Maggots, whose condition (ie. devotion to cool garage sounds) is still incurable. Both songs are covers. The A side is a 1969 song by an obscuro band called The Traits and would do as a theme for a remake of the Hollywood remake, with tinkling piano a nice addition. The flip is a medium tempo frat-surf rocker by The Genteels and unless I miss my guess it turned up on one of those Las Vegas Grind compilations about a decade ago. Not as fab as the A but still pretty happening, as is much of what these guys do.
JET SET GYPSY EP - The Cinders (Pop the Balloon)
Straight from the Paris kitchen-cum-recording-studio of co-leader Laurent Ciron comes this four-track EP of rather fantastic rock-pop. If you've read the album review you'll know that these guy have made one of the albums of 2006 (I'd prematurely say it was THE best, but there's some heavy competition coming down the turnpike) and since this one plucks three of the best from the long-player, you know how it's going to be received. The title tune's a soulful rocker, "My Favourite Audience" the reflective pop piece and "Girl Crazy" the irresistible singalong. Surprise addition is a steaming cover of "I'm Crying" (a non album track) and if The Cinders don't scale the Burdon-led vocal heights of the original they add a different dimension with some on-the-money guitar. Now we can enjoy The Cinders on the CD player and the jukebox. It's become a permanent fixture on the latter.
VISION EXPRESS EP - The Incubators (Bootleg Booze)
Two ex-Gluecefiers on bass and lead guitar team with a vocalist-guitarist-organist and drummer from the Tip Tops to cook up a monstrous slab of rock and roll. There's a wicked groove at the bottom of this and Sindre Matre is a singer with more than a passing resemblance to Roky Erickson (a conclusion I swear I reached before laying eyes on Dave Champion's erudite liners). "Tough Night" is a song so hard it wears a kevlar jacket, yet doesn't rely on brute force or flat-out pace to make its point. "Parasite Paradise" is just as sharp and you can lay the credit on Rolf Uggen's stinging lead guitar playing.
TRIBUTE TO DEL b/w GOING BACK TO MEXICO - The Hekawis (Corduroy)
An oldie which was recently bequeathed by a grannie with a garageful of strange black things called vinyl singles. I'm not sure of the status of The Hekawis, who may have gone the way of this record label or could be having a sabbatical, but this is another seven-incher well worth tracking down. "Tribute to Del" might contain Screamin' Stevie's clearest vocal moment ever and is a positively mainstream radio-friendly ballad (meant in the finest possible way) by comparison to most Hekawis tuneage. The flip is a rocker is a return to more familiar turf and was recorded by an entirely different line-up. Yes, there have been a lot of Hekawis and Stevie now leads an outfit called The Credit Cards. Yours is not to reason why, just lay your hands on a copy of the thing.
VEX ME HEX ME b/w GANGLAND - Adam West (Bootleg Booze)
These Washington DC cats spend enough time on the road in Europe to qualify as members of Dubbya's Diplomatic Corps (and they'd probably do a better job than some of the genuine article guys - I bet they have bigger balls than Condie). They might be too metal for some around these parts but I've always had a high regard for the way they throttle a song, and Jake Starr has one of the best throats in the biz. The A side burns with a supple bass line propelling it forward like an overladen cement truck in fifth. Dan-O Deckelman jumps into Eddie Van Halen territory with his guitarwork on the flip, a cover of a Tygers of Pan Tang song. Metal meets the pedal. Love to hear them bump heads with a Rose Tattoo tune.
FOR CHICAGO GIRLS b/w STREETS OF THIS TOWN/RED LIGHT VALENTINE - The Born Losers (Scarey Records)
Rough and tumble punk rock from Portland, Orgeon, via a label in Italy. While lo-fi is more a way of life than an art form and it's nice to be a nihilist (the band name's a dead giveaway), it helps if the rhythm guitar doesn't sound like it was recorded in a coal mine. This is fairly straight-up school of '77 stuff done well, in the vein of the Angry Samoans. The pick is the slowest tune, "Red Light Valentine". All up, a little unassuming.
THEE FROM PARTS UNKNOWN EP - Antiseen (Scarey Records)
Trash-punk's leading exponents liberate four of their songs from whatever rehearsal room they were briefly held hostage in, blow their heads off with a sawn-off and dump their bodies in a garbage can. There's no use in forensically examining the remains; far better to let the maggots eat 'em out from the inside. I don't know if these guys rock my boat as much as kick a fucking hole in the bottom of it and send it to the bottom. It's greasy, hairy punk rock with sweat that smells of cheap meth and sour mash. "Mad, Bad & Dangerous To Know" sums up side one, while chick vocals (courtesy Kelly Kisses Canipe) in the breakdown make the B side's stand-out, "From Parts Unknown", this week's best rock and roll wrestling song.
LOST AT SEA VOLUME 1 - The Invisible Surfers/The Supersonicos/Pozor Vlak/The Tommys (Fuzznsurf)
Props to Robert Lastdrager from Melbourne band The Tommys for passing this on. It's the first volume of a planned series and features surf tunes from four globally diverse bands. If you think you've heard all that this genre can offer, this is more fun that it sounds. You can sense the ghostly hand of the late Link Wray on all of these songs, to some degree. "Pipemind" is from Uruguay's The Supersonicos and it's short and slight.The two best tracks are the opening "Cobra Snake Neck Tie" by The Invisible Surfers (USA) and the closer, "Grow Fins" by The Tommys. The Australians actually do what lots of their local forebears did in the '60s and employ (shaky) vocals,also making the most of Ollie Laurie's always sharp guitarwork. If you ever wondered what became of original Died Pretty bassplayer Jonathan Lickliter, The Tommys are your answer. It's a long way from "Landsakes" to St Kilda Beach. Score a copy here.
GATO NEGRO - Supersuckers b/w CHINATOWN - Zeke (Bootleg Booze)
If you're Australian and still lamenting the cancellation of Zeke's planned 2006 tour, maybe this split single will provide solace. "Chinatown" is 1min39sec of what you could term fairly typical Zeke rock action i.e. no need for niceties,now get the fuck out of my way. The Supersuckers song will pummel your eardrums into next week and probably takes the points in a split decision. A near run thing but when it's this close, who cares. Flip from one to the other. It's all good.
BOOM BOOM A ZOOM ZOOM b/w RAMBLIN' MAN - Bob Urh and The Bare Bones (self released)
Slippery slide guitar, off-hand vocals and six strings being shredded in the background lend a sense of strangeness to what's essentially a slice of walking blues on the A side of this self-released effort from transplanted New Yorker Bob Urh, now working out of N'orleans. Compelling enough stuff. The flip puts Hank Williams through the wringer and what comes out isn't pretty.
READY TO GO b/w LOVES THE RAIN - Hugo Race & The True Spirit (Bang! Records)
I lost trace of Hugo Race after Citadel put out The Wreckery album (which is showing my age) and although he was also a Bad Seed, Nick and Co weren't really big on mya radar. Loads of Europeans are more up to speed and think he and his revolving cast of band members are the best thing since the single Euro currency. Old Hugo doesn't grace his home country with many shows these days which is why Spain's Bang! Records jumped at the opportunity to have him on their roster and playing locally. "Ready To Go" is atmospheric blues carried along by a subtle rock undertow. It must be pretty old because it was recorded live at The Greyhound in Melbourne which is no more. The flip is a studio effort and puts me in mind of some of Ed Kuepper's "Honey Steel's Gold" songs. Jew's harp and the swell of a Hammond round it off. It's on Bang! so you know it's packaged better than a wedding present (speaking of which, congrats to label co-owner Juan and his new bride).
GOING FAR AWAY - Trixie and the Merch Girls b/w SHAKES/HEAVEN KNOWS - The Jim-Jims (Wee Rock Records)
There I was, about to pass comment that the A side was of this split single as far removed as what passes for a playlist in the I-94 Bar as you could get, writing it off as a maudlin, lo-energy dirge. Then I realised the turntable had been out of commission for so long that the speed setting was on 33. Anyway, played at the correct speed, "Going Far Away" is pleasant, skeletal pop (so it's not so close to what we play here) carried by an interesting female vocal. Like a Midwestern Frente. The Jim-Jims are angst-tinged vocals riding a nice, trashy twin-guitar sound. "Shakes" meanders along but "She Knows How" picks up the pace and is all the better for it.
BOX LUNCH EP - The Jim-Jims (Wee Rock Records)
I spent a night looking for rock and roll in Springfield, Missouri, and ended up seeing some vile Murph and the Magic Tones pastiche in the basement of what passed for a Holiday Inn. Irrelevant, but for the fact that these guys are on a Springfield label that wasn't around in those days. Pity. (Doesn't Homer come from there? Wrong Springfield). There's nothing Simpsons-esque about these four tunes. Tim Springfield's quirky vocals are a cross between Jello and Mark Mothersbaugh and the rest of the band ain't too bad either. "Slow Bang" is a Big Rock Song by a punk band, replete with Angus Young trilling. "Fucked Up Again" and the title track are powertrips with nice, full-throated guitars. The closing "Goober Peas" is the sort of novelty song a band trots out as an encore when everybody's mindlessly drunk (them included). Bequeath it to the Magic Tones, guys. The front cover pic should be worth a Budweiser sponsorship (I think I'd skip the box lunch in that case - it really is cat's piss). And that could be a contemporary Ron Asheton on the back cover, holding a lighter.
LET'S GET BROKEN b/w NEW YORK PAWNSHOP/I HAVE SEEN THE DEVIL - The Jet Set (Wee Rock Records)
Minimalist production matches a line-up of drums, Farfisa and guitar-vocals. The A side is all over the shop, with stop-start rhythms and Adam Widener's tightly-wound vox both grating. More like a jam than a song. The band comes into its own on the flip, however, with Trisha Padasch's vamping Farfisa coming up hard against Joel Kopp's powerful, rolling drums and Widener's redeemed vox. "New York Pawnshop" rides a surf rhythm all the way to Coney Island, I'd guess. "I Have Seen the Devil" is a trashy whodunit pulp novel, but in colour.
GET DOWN! EP - Sonic Negroes (It's Not About Music Records)
More Swedish Rock Action, this time from a Stockholm five-piece. Hard to see how fans of the 'Copters et al wouldn't take to this like a battery hen to genetically modified seed. "Liquid Inspiration" is the brutal pick of the barnyard with Bassmangus' driving basslines and Hellman's wrought vocals real stand-outs. The guitarists get some nice things going but flounder in the mix at times. "Sonic Young Boy" is solid enough and "You Say Yeah!" poppy, in the heaviest sort of way. Promising but not overly memorable, in the end.
SEE YOU TONIGHT b/w COLOUR ME IMPRESSED/MYSTERY - Brother Brick (Bang Records)
One of Sydney's best bands of the '90s get the Bang Records treatment on a 7" and it's a reminder of what made Stew Cunningham's band great, in its various incarnations. It's an all-star line-up with ex-Tumbleweeder Jay Curley on bass being joined by Celibate Rifles/New Christs drummer Nik Rieth and everywhere man Bill (The Eastern Dark) Gibson lending a hand on backing vocals. "See You Tonight" was a highlight of the band's latter-day sets and stands up well on record. The flip are covers of songs by The Replacements and The Wipers respectively (the former for a tribute album) and they're done outstandingly well. Colour us impressed. Nice reminder that there's a retrospective CD on the way in 2006.
FANTASMA EP: GOODBYE TO RYE/SEANY BEAN'S SNAKE/DESPERATE BLUES b/w HARDCORE/45 SPECIAL/FRYIN' BRAINS - Los Raw Gospels (Dull City Records)
With more than a nod of the head to Billy Childish, Los Raw Gospels come clattering out of the dark recesses of some sodden English bolthole of a studio and unleash six lo-fi explosions. These guys are a three-piece (two guitars and drums) populated by a Pom, a Finn and a Spaniard. Their coming together could spell the end of the European Union. Tommy Nortis does for vocalising what coke did to Kate Moss' modeling career. He launches "Hardcore" with one of his shrieks and it's all downhill from there. Fans of the Mummies will approve. If Norway's best little label doesn't want to break out of the vinyl format and do an album I suggest Voodoo Rhythm send out a smoke signal.
AUTOLUMINSECENT b/w OCEAN - Rowland S Howard with The Devastations (Bang Records)
Rowland S. Howard doesn't get out much these days (but was sighted playing a show in Brisbane recently), so the availability of a single with well-credentialed accompanists The Devastations in tow should make some fans ears prick up. The title track - born out of "10 days of plague-level sickness", the liners say - is pretty dark and probably not something that'll get a regular airing around here. The man's more rabid fans would disagree. To my mind the guy's guitar playing is one of the most distinctive styles around, but it's low-key here. The B side is a Velvets cover and delivered in a rockier vein than the A. It builds and peaks superbly. Really worthy for that aspect alone.
THE SPANISH SHUTDOWN (66 vs 69) EP - Dr Explosion/Shutdown 66 (Corduroy)
One of a plethora of singles from the venerable and apparently scaled-back Melbourne label Corduroy Records. (They've sold their vinyl press so who knows what the future holds?) You ought to be on first-name terms with Shutdown 66 who, with The Crusaders, jointly hold the title of Australia's best garage punk band. Dr ExpLosion is, I'm guessing, a Spanish band mining a similar vein and land some heavyweight punches on their side. "Let's Go in 69" is powered by an irresistible beat and some sharp guitar, and "Outside" is only slightly behind. The Shutdowns' "Welcome to Dumpsville" is known around the world (or should be) and the title tune leads off their side with a Snot Quotient of 6 on a scale of 7. "Slow Train To Rajahstan" is no slouch either. All-up, I'd score it a draw. Find a copy and you'll be the winner.
IN VINO VERITAS/I'VE NEVER KNOWN THIS 'TIL NOW - The Sewergrooves b/w LA RUTA INTERIOR/EL BLUES DE LA LLANTA - Senior No (GP Records)
Double single in a chunky gatefold cover with each band sharing its own slice of seven-inch goodness. The Sewergrooves are simply one of the best meeting places of hi-energy and melodic rock and roll and this is a stong effort. "In Vino Veritas" is almost an archetypal Sewergrooves song, with Kurt's plaintive vox and his and Packe's sharp guitarwork while resisting the excesses of some Scandi bands. Spanish band Senor No sing in their native tongue but deliver a hefty punch that transcends language barriers. MC5 metaphors should never be used lightly but "La Ruta Interior" sounds like "Back in the USA" should have if Jon Landau hadn't had his ears packed with cotton wool. "El Blues De La Lanta" works it way up to an irresistible wall of six-strings with a monster groove, winding up with more Sonic and Wayne-styled rave-ups and a great vocal. Best lesser-known band I've heard in ages and not afraid to mix it up with touches of sitar and piano. Do they have any albums?
SPILLED YOUR PINT b/w SIXTY NINE- The Flaming Stars (Bang! Records)
A bunch of English veterans that I haven't heard much from despite their six albums since 1994, and their single on a Spanish label showcases two very different aspects of their act. "Spilled Your Pint" weaves a jungle-surf beat with a massive bassline and Max Decharne's understatedly cool vocal to come up with something entirely unique. Bears up under repeated plays. The garage rocks to a suave beat. "Sixty Nine" is a quiet and gentle piece of world-weary introspection with a steel cap boot kicking at its tail. Don't let the thought of a ballad scare you off. It's very cool.
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE b/w I REMEMBER/MIND CONTROL - Street Brats (Full Breach Kicks)
It's 1977 again and everyone (these guys, at least) are determined to out-Clash the Clash. Street Brats are a four-piece from Chicago and if they haven't been within a stone's throw of an English football terrace it doesn't show. Mind you, on a song like "Mind Control" they do it well (and almost had me singing along, even though i got over Pommy punk an eon ago). It's all well-produced with the eyes on the prize. A word for Liverpudlians: The A side is not the Gerry and the Pacemakers song (Judging by the look of him on Aussie morning TV about six months ago, old Gerry would need a pacemaker to keep up). It even has a Clash-like skankin' breakdown. Not my pint of bitter but you may disagree. At least they're not Rancid.
EVIL PICNIC EP - The Stabilisers (Nicotine)
A bunch of geezers from Rochester, England, have put this out on an Italian label and I've heard of worse ways to line up a holiday in the sun. They crank up a feisty mess of noise over these four songs. They sound like Graduates of the Class of '77, having drunk deep from the well of the Buzzcocks, but there's enough of a garage streak here to keep them clear of dog collar cliches. The presence of former Headcoats bassplayer Alan Crockford would assure that. Four strong songs and a frenetic delivery. "Taking the Piss" seems to be doing just that, and "Plastic Love" reveals an equally strong sense of humour. I could handle hearing more from these guys.
BOULEVARD b/w BLOOD TRANSFUSION/WASTE YOU, TASTE YOU - Crimson Sweet (Shake It)
Tough as a dockside bar and with a sound as thick as a Jersey Shore fog, this New York City trio are led by vocalist-guitarist Polly Watson, a singer on the Wendy Case (Paybacks) level of greatness. Punk rock with a dash of glam in the guitars and enough attitude to turn around a Gulf Coast hurricane, Polly stretches those pipes to the max on the closing "Waste You, Taste You". Best moment is "Boulevard" with its thick guitars and killer feel. I've a funny feeling this release only scratches the surface.
TURNOMATICS/TRES DELICIAS Split EP - (Evil Baby Records)
Strangeness from Spain. The Turnomatics side of this (featuring four songs) had me thinking the turntable was on the wrong setting, so strangulated are the singer's vocals. A large cylinder of helium may have been on hand when they recorded this. One song, "Do It Yourself", expires more than ends, with a gasp from the, er, vocalist. Swirling organ underpins "No Ilorare". Tres Delicias play fairly rote garage and fill their side with three songs. Their rhythm section sounds a bit clunky.
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